The overwhelming majority of lawsuits are resolved without a trial. If a lawsuit is likely not going to trial, businesses need to be aware of available alternatives and the corresponding benefits and drawbacks. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is the term applied to resolving a dispute outside of the courtroom. Litigants have many options to avoid the courtroom through ADR, including mediation or arbitration.

The value of ADR cannot be overstated, especially in light of rising COVID-19 litigation, such as situations when a business can’t do what a contract requires it to do. And, as courts work their way through the backlog of cases that have arisen from the COVID-19 closings, with many still delaying jury trials, ADR has been especially helpful in this time of pandemic.

Businesses are not alone in the need to work through disputes during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is evidence that the stressors of separation and divorce may be exacerbated with families working from home and children in home schooling. ADR offers paths around court delays for custody disputes and divorce matters.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has created enormous uncertainty in the business community, the best way to resolve disputes is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Businesses should engage in careful planning processes, and continue to evaluate and refine their policies, processes, and strategies, to avoid ugly business disputes.